Here’s to the Women
While it’s true that International Women’s Day was started as a socialist holiday, it doesn’t mean that we can’t utilize the day to celebrate the groundbreaking women in history who risked their lives and livelihoods for the betterment of women everywhere.
In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott gathered the Seneca Falls Convention to discuss the issue, or rather the lack thereof, of women’s rights. They “amended” the Declaration to proclaim in their Declaration of Sentiments that “all men AND WOMEN are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
When it was originally ratified in 1868, the 14th Amendment defined citizens that were protected by the Constitution only as male, only applying to white males at this point, but in 1870 it was ratified again to include black men as well. In 1890, Cady Stanton became the first president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Stanton and Mott, along with Susan B. Anthony continued to lobby on behalf of the association. In 1910, some states began to let women vote (Wyoming was the first!) and at long last on June 4, 1919, the 19th Amendment was ratified by a 56-25 vote to state that the “rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
There are negative associations with both being conservative and being a feminist. So being both is practically insane! In today’s social media driven world, people feel that they have the license to freely comment on other’s decisions without consequence, because it’s all done from the safety of their screens. Conservative women and liberal women alike are criticized for their clothing choices, their relationship choices, their career choices, and everything else. Conservative women especially take lots of heat from so-called feminists just because they choose to hold a set of beliefs.
Working in politics has been an eye-opening experience for this conservative female, both positively and a little dishearteningly. Through the “me too” movement, we have learned how much people, especially men, in power will take advantage of young women trying to jump start their careers. This principle is something that women before us experienced in a much more dramatic way, but something that we cannot pretend still doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t make us victims. Women are not a lesser gender to be protected, we are a formidable force to be respected.
As we review our history as a gender, what we’ve fought to achieve, and how we look into the future to better the lives of ourselves, we have to cut through all the crap in order to actually make a difference. Political posturing will get us nowhere. While solidarity is important, wearing black won’t change anything. Refusing to acknowledge that there are still inequalities in treatment is also a non-starter. There is a difference between acknowledging that there are still problems to be fixed without branding all of one gender as a victim.
How will we use our voices?
I vote that we continue to encourage women to break into fields that generally are male-dominated. That we let little girls wear princess dresses because there’s nothing wrong with fairy tales, but we teach them that they don’t need a prince to save them. That we support women who choose to get married and raise children at home, because making a choice to leave the workforce does not make you weak. That we tell our daughters that they CAN be the president of our great country, and just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean that they can’t provide that monumental change we so desperately need. That their political beliefs and their wardrobe choices do not define who they are. And that above all, that there is nothing that they can’t accomplish simply because of their gender.
“Here’s to strong women: may we know them, may we raise them, may we be them.”